Studmuffin in Red (wavy_blue) wrote in powerofthepen,
Studmuffin in Red
wavy_blue
powerofthepen

Life Lessons in Old Navy

Title: Life Lessons in Old Navy
Rating: K+
Genre: Romantic Dramedy
Summary: Security is the most important aspect in Marin's life. But when she gets to know introspective and understanding Brendan, she discovers that the boy who lost so much just might be the one who could give her the world and teach her to take a chance.
Complete/In Progress: In Progress
Warning: None

Life Lessons in Old Navy

Prologue

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“No, Lisa, we don’t need the polos restocked....I don’t care if there are hundreds of extra boxes back there, we have enough out front. But thanks for asking...” I blubbered tiredly into my head set. New employees...all they want to do is keep putting stuff out, keep putting stuff out, and keep putting stuff out, until all the boxes in storage are empty. Well, it doesn’t work that way. Unless we started displaying clothes on the floor, but that is obviously not going to happen.

It was just then, as I finished hanging up a white hooded jacket, that I heard a clank, a smack, and a crash. I steered my way around the isle to where the sound had come from.

“Oh. My. Lanta.” I sighed heavily, staring firmly with my hands on my hips down at Brendan who was sitting flustered in a pile of jeans. How stupid could he be? Lord, he was worse than that Mexican kid who didn’t know any English. Why in the name of Enron had daddy hired an idiot like Brendan?

Brendan grinned at me facetiously. “Oh. Hi, Marin.” He sneered insincerely, a deep blush running up his cheeks. “I, err....dropped the pants.”

I rolled my eyes, thumbing the edges of my name tag instinctively. “You dropped the pants. I can see that.”

Morons come in all shapes and sizes. Brendan was your average moron. Medium height, skinny, loud, obnoxious, blonde. I’d never understand what any of the other girls at work saw in him. He was just an insolent, moronic, never-had-a-girlfriend David Beckham wannabe.

I grimaced at him as I kneeled down on one knee, close to his face. He needed to get this concept. His eyes lowered dully as I reached his level in the pool of blue jeans. I glared as I snapped, “This is work. When you drop the pants, you pick up the pants.”

Brendan closed his eyes–he had rather long eye lashes, how pretty boy wannabe was that?–and ran his hand through his short blonde hair. “You know, Marin, you should really take some time off from yelling at people. Especially since you’re only on the same level of employment as I am.” He remarked sarcastically. He slapped his knee mockingly as he stood up, a disgusting grin covering his cheeks.

I whipped myself up to standing position, my eyes narrow slits. If there was a new Dennis the Menace movie, I’m absolutely positive that Brendan would win the role of Dennis in a heartbeat. “I can get you fired when ever you want me to.”

He smirked, leaning against the wall of pants behind him. “Wow. If that were really true, I would have been fired exactly twenty-four weeks and six days ago.” He seemed proud of his kindergarten counting skills. What an idiot. “The day I started.”

I snapped around on my heel and muttered, “Golden boy,” under my breath as I walked away.

He somehow managed to hear me. One more proof that he is an idiot. “Not all that glitters is gold,” he replied mockingly, throwing his hands out to his sides like he was Moses parting the red sea. I half expected the jeans to separate on the floor.

I turned and gaped at him. “Excuse me? Are you trying to look smart by quoting Twelfth Night? Or are you just trying to prove once again that you should be a poster child for the Rugrats?” I sneered quizzically.

He shook his head and laughed. “Well, for firsties,” he began with a raise of his eyebrows in such a obviously thinks-he’s-as-cool-as-Simon-Cowell way I wanted to vomit, “that didn’t make any sense. What does Shakespeare have to do with being a poster child for the Rugrats?” He asked cooly. My guts revolted. “And for secondsies, its from The Merchant Of Venice. Check and Mate,” He finished, crossing his arms like he thought he was the Man.

I turned to walk away again, trying not to blow steam out of my ears, when he asked almost fatherly, “Well? Whatever happened with that NYU professor? Did you perform for him?”

I didn’t want to turn around. Lord, who told him about that? Why did he seem to know everything about my life? What was he, a....

“Stalker,” I hissed harshly. “That is none of your business.”

“Fine. Whatever. You should have done it,” he sighed. Who did he think he was, my conscience? He had no right to be telling me what I should have done. This was my business.

As I walked away stubbornly, as I did after every encounter I had with Brendan Washburn, he said, “I’ll see you at the meeting.”

I stomped away furiously. Why, why out of all people, did dad hire him? Sure, maybe Brendan needed this job more than anyway. I should have felt bad for what happened to him, but was so hard...

And why, oh Lord, why, did it just so happen that everything he said, while annoying me to the point of intoxication, seemed to be right?

Sometimes all you need to know you’re still sane is the absence of a straight jacket.

Life Lessons in Old Navy

Chapter One

God Bless the Monotone Life

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:.Marin’s POV.:

Forrest Gump said that life is like a box of chocolates.

Please. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Okay, maybe you don’t know what you’re going to get, but that’s only if you are an idiot and don’t use the key that is included in virtually every box of chocolates in existence. I mean, they literally have to have those. What if someone is allergic to nuts and there wasn’t a key, so they ate a peanut chocolate? They could so sue those chocolate corporate idiots who didn’t put a key in their box.

Life is like...a mildly old car. It runs well and how you think it should, with the occasional bump or two in the smooth run. Maybe the transmission dies and your out for a while. Maybe you run out of gas and lose your job. Maybe you blow up because you didn’t turn off the ignition when you put gas into the car. Of course, if you’re that stupid, you shouldn’t be driving anyway.

At least, that’s how life is for me. I could understand the box-of-chocolates for people with no plans for the future. People with no organization. Me, I know what I want. But, take...oh let’s just say, Brendan, for example. God knows what he wants. Sure, he’s got the shabby job and did fine in school. But everyone else around here who is going to graduate like us are talking about how they can’t wait to go to such-and-such college. Brendan’s never said anything to the likes of that. The only thing he seems to like to do is get on my nerves.

Lord, if there was a degree for being a pest, he could get a PhD.

Of course, if anyone knew what I was thinking, they would be calling me a cold hearted wench. Poor Brendan. It’s always Poor Brendan.

Not that I don’t feel bad for him. He seems to have been through a lot. But Lord, does that give someone an excuse to be an absolute.....

“Marin, you haven’t touched your BB Hot Dog. Are you feeling okay?” Libby asked attentively, bringing me back full-focus to what was going on around me. I found myself looking down at the grilled-to-perfect Big Brown Hot Dog on a blue-trimmed paper plate in such a tired manner that I was shocked I hadn’t fallen asleep. Her course New England accent cut through the chill air in my mind as I snapped to attention.

My eyes shot up. My friends Adrian and Shelbie were playing Sodoku in their laps, pens scribbling back and forth in a heated race to see who could finish their puzzle first. Shelbie always won; I never quite understood why Adrian kept it up. He was that far out dreamer, even when it came to playing puzzle games with his friends. I saw the intense fire in his cast down chestnut eyes as he took a split second break to run a hand through his jet black hair. He worked in a rocking motion. It was his guide of sorts; as long as he had that rocking beat in his head, he was able to solve the puzzles.

But Shelbie still always won. Competitive down to her ancestors who she claimed invented cricket, she was destined from a very young age to become a soccer mom. She already drove around a lugging eight passenger van, what more to do than pile a bunch of energetic children in there and bus them to sporting events?

She was such a contrast, sitting there next to dark and big Adrian. She was petite and blonde, and rather incredibly short. If she wasn’t shouting out “Crumbelievable!” she was engaged in some sort of game. Whether it was to see who could restock the baby clothes fastest or who could run a mile fastest, she was always into it.

Libby was just....Libby. Mouse brown hair and green eyes. There weren’t really words for Libby. She was kind, caring, compassionate, and any other positive traits you could think of that start with the “ka” sound. To put an exact label on Libby would be near to impossible. She was, in all honesty, literally the textbook definition of “normal”. She did no rocking when solving Sodoku puzzles or races to restock. She was just normal. Just normal Libby.

This was our lunch break at Dan’s Diner. We always ordered the same lunch. We always ordered the same drink. We always sit in the same booth; the one next to the corner window that is bright and gives you a good view of the bustling down town, but always stays in the shade, and has that mysterious purple smudge on it that never has and will probably never in history come off. It’s anyone guess if we always have the same utensils.

Suddenly, Shelbie kicked me from under the table. I winced slightly at the rough edge of her vans nicking my recently sunburnt shin, but it only hurt for a moment as she nodded towards the window. I looked out it eagerly, to see what my expectations knew. Hotness McSexy. Also known as Theo Reed. My patented, oh-so-perfect boyfriend.

I smiled cushily. Really, that was the only word to describe it. Cushy. I guess that’s one “ka” attribute Libby doesn’t have. But heavens, Theo surely does.

He entered the diner nonchalantly, his dimple-infused smile showing at me. The four of us chimed, “Theo!” a la Norm on Cheers.

But he is nothing like Norm. The Norm of this diner is the guy who is always in there during lunch reading Popular Science eating a croissant with a donut for desert.

Oh hohoho no. Theo’s not like Norm in the least bit. I mean, yes, he is nice to be around, like Norm was, I guess. But as far as Cheers goes, Theo beats every last one of those males in the good looking department. After all, he is McSexy. Goodness, no, I didn’t call him that to his face. Maybe if I wanted him to break up with me. But I certainly, certainly, CERTAINLY did not want that.

Theo took his usual seat in the booth next to me. He looked best there with the light glistening in his eyes but not too bright to see. I smiled as he put his arm around me.

Theo was the kind of security a girl needs. He had everything right. He knew where he was going, unlike Brendan. I always knew I could count on Theo. And he loved me. I knew that.

Truly, love isn’t a skip-in-a-heartbeat chance happening. It’s a security, a safety. How do you think parents get their merits? Not because they take chances. Because they guided children along. And those parents who take chances with their kids? Well, they don’t have parental merits. Duh.

“Marin, you haven’ touched your BB Hot Dog. Is something wrong?” Theo asked in a concerned tone, squeezing me with his arm slightly.

See what I mean? Such care for my well being. When Brendan sees me looking glum in work, he says, “What, Marin? Is everything hoighty-toighty?” But Theo actually wants to know.

What is Brendan’s deal, anyway? He’s not even close to a Newsie. And this is Baltimore, not New York. And he looks nothing like Christian Bale. Christian Bale is attractive and probably is a nice guy in real life. He probably wouldn’t go around when people look sad and say “Is everything hoighty-toighty?”

I shook my head in response to Theo. “No. I’m fine. Just thinking.”

His eyebrows lowered and formed a sharp T in the middle of his forehead. “You’re not still on about that whole NYU thing, are you?”

I rested into his shoulder comfortably. “No.”

I could feel him smile. I could smell his cologne. Something by Calvin Klein. Nice. “Good,” he responded shortly. “As long as you’re happy.”

Adrian was bothered enough by our words to look up from his heated Sodoku match with Shelbie. “You’re talking about that piano thing, right?”

I nodded apprehensively. I knew all of them thought I should have performed for the NYU music program. I could have gotten a nearly full-ride scholarship in their music program.

But I just couldn’t do that. Jeopardize my collegic future on a piano recital? I couldn’t take a chance like that. Sure, I was good. No, I was textbook genius on piano if I say so myself. But there was no way I could have taken that prize. There are so many applicants to NYU. Odds are one of them is a better pianist than I am.

Adrian simply bit his lower lip, then looked down at his Sodoku again. From what I could tell he had started slowing down, and obvious sign that Shelbie was the soon-to-be victor.

Theo lips brushed my earlobe as he whispered, “It’s okay. I understand why you didn’t do it.”

I blushed madly. That was all I needed to know.

Suddenly Libby squealed (an unusual thing for her to do), “Oh! We’re going to be late if we don’t leave now!”

Shelbie, now a proud victor, smiled as she put her Sodoku book and pen into her purse. Adrian grumbled as they slid out of the booth. Theo kept his arm wrapped around me as we stood up, my heart thumping happily. Libby was out last.

Theo left us at the corner outside. He gave me a sweet and simple peck on the lips before departing, and I sighed, “See you tomorrow.”

Usually it was “see you tonight.” But not tonight. Tonight we had a meeting. I’d asked and asked and asked if Theo could come to the meetings, but the vote unanimously voted no. Outsiders were not allowed into the League.

Whatever, I sometimes sighed. League. What kind of League were we, anyway? Not a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I’m sure Sean Connery would never fit in to our League, no matter what hero he was. Even if he was being Indiana Jones’ dad. And it certainly wasn’t a League under the sea. Don’t even get me started on Captain Nemo.

My wandering thoughts were once again interrupted by Libby as we walked quickly down the sidewalk back towards work. True, I had immunity from being fired since my dad was The Boss. But I didn’t want to hold any of my friends back.

Anyway, Libby said for no apparent reason out of the blue, “I don’t understand why Brendan would rather stay working than take a lunch break.

Shelbie was nodding as I looked up. Then she shrugged. “I don’t know. Post traumatic stress, maybe?”

Adrian looked at us quizzically. “I think he’s like Simba.”

Um, what?

“You mean from the Lion King.” I clarified sarcastically.

Adrian nodded quickly, eager to prove his point. “Yeah.”

“You think he’s going to forget who he is, and then reclaim the Pride Land?” Escaped my lips before I could stifle laughter.

Adrian rolled his eyes. “Yes, Marin, that is exactly what I mean.”

He was so, so wrong though. Brendan was nothing like Simba. Maybe they both went through traumatic experiences, thats true, but Simba rises to the occasion and reclaims the Pride Land! Brendan, rather than become a hero born out of his traumas, just decided to become a sarcastic Old Navy employee.

I could never see Brendan reclaiming the Pride Land.

Then again, I could never see Simba working in Old Navy.

There you have it. Case-in-point that analogies are just fluff.

Box of chocolates, my eye......

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There you have it! Please let me know what you think, critiques are greatly appreciated.
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